By Lauren Hermon
For Silvia Hart, it seems a lifetime ago when she had little money and was living without electricity for three years.
Cooking meals for her kids using a bonfire she would start outside her Adelaide Hills home, the odds were against Silvia, but despite hardship, she has since become a successful South Australian entrepreneur.
But, for Silvia, being called an entrepreneur is something she still “pinches” herself about.
“I never set out to become an entrepreneur. I actually thought being one would mean I wasn’t good enough to get a proper job,” Silvia laughs.
Ironically her interest in business began when she helped set up a venture for her ex-husband.
“I watched him working for someone else and thought, ‘this is crazy; you should be working for yourself’,” Silvia says.
“He said he didn’t have the money to start a business and my response was: ‘You don’t need money to set one up’.
“So, I set up the business in the corner of our kitchen while studying all day at uni and working huge night hours at pubs. The business was the first mobile vet service in Adelaide.”
After separating from her husband, Silvia moved to a property just outside Mount Barker where her interest in “seasonal living” and future career in the South Australian food industry began.
“I was living from the garden when the sun went up until the sun went down… I learned a lot about myself and living off the land,” she says.
Silvia started cooking demonstrations at the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmer’s Market once a month.
“After hiring an agent, I started doing cooking demos around Australia and certainly developed a love for doing TV work,” she says.
Silvia has presented food industry stories for Channel Seven’s Today Tonight.
Following her cooking demonstrations people would wait for hours to speak to Silvia just to ask her “where they could eat her food”.
“It was one of the reasons for building Seasonal Garden Cafe. I’d heat up the food I’d made and take it down to one of the old cottages which seated 40 people,” she says.
Now seating up to 200 people, Seasonal Garden Cafe sits on two acres of land and has 15 employees. It has experienced a 1000 per cent turnover since it opened four years ago.
But before it was ‘Seasonal Garden Cafe’, the premise was Silvia’s honey cellar door which she opened after experiencing success with a honey-making business. Her honey was distributed around Australia and even Singapore.
Like any entrepreneur, Silvia’s ideas continue.
Due for completion in September, the Seasonal Garden Cafe will feature an accessible vegetable garden.
“We’re creating raised garden beds for older people, teaching the community about organic gardening and we’re also keen to have chefs and others in the food industry use the garden.”
Silvia’s also working to get her ‘Lunch Box Lady’ venture off the ground, where she takes photos of lunch box food ideas for kids, before sharing it on social media.
Despite experiencing national success, Silvia rates Adelaide as the best state to start a business.
“I wouldn’t go anywhere else… but I certainly don’t feel like I’ve achieved a tenth of what I want to do and be. I’m sure I’m going to run out of life before I get the chance of finishing all of the things I want to do,” she laughs.
Entrepreneurs Week 2016 starts from today (June 6). View the full program.